The goal of my research is to develop new methods for discovering novel classes of naturally-occurring molecules with therapeutic properties. The majority of our most effective antibiotics are made by microorganisms, but we have explored only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the number of small molecules that microbes are capable of producing. Genome analyses indicate that bacteria grown in the laboratory, where nutrients are plentiful, display about 10 percent of their chemical repertoire; the rest of their metabolite-making machinery remains dormant or silent. Now, using an innovative combination of microbiological, genetic, and biochemical techniques that we have developed, my laboratory aims to activate these silent biosynthetic pathways, thus allowing isolation and characterization of their corresponding products. A key ingredient in this strategy involves interspecies competition, that is, growth of bacteria under conditions, in which one species is forced to compete with another for limited nutrients. Our initial results have shown that this approach can prompt microbes to synthesize chemicals that kill or slow the growth of other bacteria—molecules that could represent new antibiotics, to which human bacterial pathogens have not yet developed resistance.